Bookstore sells binders made with hazardous chemicals

Published by adviser, Author: Haley Barnes - News Editor , Date: February 12, 2015

The SGA Bookstore located in the Smith Student Center has been selling Samsill brand binders with a label on the binder warning consumers about a chemical that is used to make the binder.

The label reads, “WARNING: This product contains a chemical known to the State of California to cause cancer and birth defects or other reproductive harm. For more info go to”

Joe Flynn, SGA Bookstore manager, said the Bookstore has been carrying Samsill brand binders for over 10 years now and the binders come from Samsill Corporation, which is located in Fort Worth, Texas. He said the Bookstore sells five different colors in various sizes.

“We carry the Samsill binders because they are a good quality and value binders that we are able buy at a reasonable cost and pass the savings on to SRU students,” Flynn said.

Flynn said that he is sure that some students were probably concerned enough with the label to not purchase the binder.

Paul Novak, Director of Environmental Health and Safety, explained the safety of selling the binders from his perspective.

He explained that manufacturers of the binders are more at risk, than consumers, but that the label is required to be on the binder because the manufacturer would be subject to fines and penalties in California for violating the Proposition 65 law.

According to the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment website, “The Proposition was intended by its authors to protect California citizens and the State’s drinking water sources from chemicals known to cause cancer, birth defects or other reproductive harm, and to inform citizens about exposures to such chemicals.”

Novak said that the manufacturers of the binders must have some evidence that one or more of the chemicals used to make the binder is present on the Proposition 65 list of known carcinogens.

“There is a likelihood some of that chemical may be present as part of the binder matrix,” Novak explained.

Novak explained consumers are not really as risk when using the binders.

“I offer the true concern relates more to an issue of risk as opposed to safety,” Novak said. “In toxicology, we teach the concept that the dose of a particular substance is a direct function of effect in terms of exposure. Generally speaking ,if a chemical or substance cannot enter the body, it generally cannot hurt that body.”

He compared the binders to gasoline by saying that gasoline contains a number of known carcinogens, such as benzene. He said the general public fills their cars up with gasoline without concern.

“Carcinogenic effects are a function of actual exposure to the benzene in gasoline,” Novak said. “That said I offer the perspective if a person happens to get a few drops of gasoline on their hands during filling their tank up, their risk of exposure would be greater than carrying a binder manufactured with a known carcinogen.”

Flynn explained that he had a conversation with a Samsill employee who assured him that these are the same binders that the SGA Bookstore has been selling for years. He also said that the employee informed him that Samsill would be removing all labels off of the binders, with the exception of the binders that are shipped to California.

“Based on the conversation that I had with Marcia from Samsill and the information that Paul Novak provided, I am very comfortable selling these binders at the SGA Bookstore,” Flynn said. “They are the same binder that we have sold for years and comprised of the same material as other binders that we and every other retailer carry.”


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